Thursday, May 17, 2007

[Apple News] FACT CHECKING 101: Don't Always Trust Your Source 100%

While every journalist, pseudo-journalist, blogger and ambulance chaser out there always dreams of having the perfect inside source, it's not always true. The folks over at Engadget yesterday managed to not completely fact check something that a "trustworthy" source from Apple gave them...and managed to commit a major reporting faux pas: posting unsubstantiated "news".

They claimed to have received information from a trustworthy person inside Apple, who shared with them an internal memo email that stated that Apple was going to delay the iPhone until October, and Leopard until January 2008. Then what was thought to be the unthinkable happened...Apple's stock dropped 5 points. Some of you may say..."uhh what's 5 points to Apple?" Try about 4 billion dollars, bucko. So it makes me wonder how seriously people take the information they get from sites like Engadget and the like that supposedly have insider information and leak said information all of the time. It's an unhealthy obsession that Americans have in general with "having to know first" and even if it's a wild rumor, most folks want to know first so they can look smart and say "I told ya so" before anyone else did.

So, the questions I think a lot of us have now are: "Did Apple do this on purpose to ferret out people breaking NDA and supplying insider info to websites?" and "Will Apple seek out a judgement against Engadget for reporting false news that damaged their company's profits?" While I'm not a legal expert, there seems to be some merit to that kind of case, with slander laws being how they are. Now if you check the link in this paragraph, you'll see that Apple's gone down this route before...and since they have already gone that route, it is not likely that they'll pursue it. However, that leads me to believe that they may have just done it to suss out the leaks. It's like putting dye into your water to see exactly where in the pipes the water is dripping from...or a tiny radioactive isotope into the body to see where it goes when it's digested. When I used to handle people with NDAs at a previous employer, I would do this kind of thing at least 1-2 times a year to check the security of people who were considered "trusted" just to be absolutely sure. After the first one of these gets through, there's rarely a second one for quite awhile.

What do all of you readers think? Post some comments and let us know!

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